Robert McLaws: Windows Edition

Blogging about Windows since before Vista became a bad word

Introducing the WindowsNow Blogcast... and Special First Guest!

It's no secret that I can't stand Apple... so when they announced last week that they've decided that "all your 'pods' are belong to us", I couldn't decide which term to use. Scoble considered "netcast", but NBC uses that term for the web-broadcast of their TV news programs, so I don't want to confuse the term. Someone on his blog suggested "audiocast" and "videocast", but they didn't quite have the right ring to them. Instead, I decided to steal Larry Hyrb's term "blogcast", as it is an effective play on words that doesn't single out a specific platform or mode of delivery.

Our Blogcast will air... well, whenever I feel like it. I'm committing to twice a month, at least while I'm trying to get the hang of all the equipment I just bought. Hopfully I'll be able to get it to once a week before the end of the year. We'll see. As you can see from the link at the top of the site, the Blogcast will have it's own section of the site, but right now it just points back to the home page.

Now for the good stuff. You can pay attention now. :)

I was extremly fortunate to have been able to secure a VERY special guest for our inaugural Blogcast. Tommorrow I'm flying up to Redmond so that Wednesday I can spend a full hour with the very top rung of the Windows ladder... none other than Microsoft P&SD Co-President Jim Allchin. That's right folks, this guy has made it his last mission at Microsoft to get Windows Vista out the door, and I'm stealing him from that mission just before Vista RTMs to pick his brain about a wide range of topics. I'm so incredibly geeked out about this interview, I can't stand it.

So, dear readers, if you had one thing you could change about Windows Vista, that was possible to fix before launch, what would that be? Leave your comments on this entry, and I'll take the top five (5) answers, as judged by me, to Jim at the end of my interview. Will they get fixed? Don't count on it, but if anyone can get them done, he can.

Pay attention to that last paragraph, because I'll only be looking at things that can be accomplished in the next 15-30 days. And please, don't give me a littany of your Vista gripes... pick ONE actionable item and post it. I want to make sure I can get Jim the fixes that will have the most impact, and I won't be able to do it if I have to read through diatribes on dialog border spacing issues. Save that for Chris' blog ;).

And stay tuned... once I get back from Redmond this weekend I'll have a better idea when this darn thing will hit the air.

Posted on Oct 02 2006, 02:42 AM by Robert McLaws
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  • thamlyn said:

    Let us redirect the entire Users directory to another drive.  We can redirect individual folders such as Documents and Music, but let us more the entire Users directory so that we can reformat the OS drive as needed without the risk of losing our personal data.

    October 2, 2006 5:25 AM
  • OOH, that's a great one. Might not be possible in 30 days, but we'll see where it lands on the list. Thanks for your comment!

    October 2, 2006 5:34 AM
  • Family pack licensing!!!

    Why can I install Office 2007 on three systems and Vista only on one!?

    Also get rid of upgrade licensing, not the price but the upgrade check. I would really like to install Vista on a pc without first searching for the XP CD. So basically FullRetail for the upgrade price :)

    October 2, 2006 6:42 AM
  • Purity999 said:

    I agree with michielonline, I believe that you should be able to install Vista on more than one machine per license.  I have 3 computer at home, and I'm sure that I'm not the only one.

    Being able to move the User Directory would certainly be useful.

    My biggest wish is that there was a way to use, should I say, the XP style "Windows Explorer".  I've got over 400 albums all with art that I used to be able see.  With Vista is has the weird open folder with the pictures stuck in look.  I would be nice if there was an option to use the old style Windows Explorer.

    October 2, 2006 8:22 AM
  • Massif said:

    Re-instate WPF support for gadgets. (I'm sure there was a good reason for taking it out, and yes I know you can work around it but I do think it should be native.)

    October 2, 2006 8:28 AM
  • porkchops said:

    How about this?

    In windows photo gallery, you can't move the window by clicking and dragging the glass on the bottom near all the controls. This behaves differently from windows media player, where you can move the window by clicking and dragging the glass.

    October 2, 2006 10:38 AM
  • giovino said:

    1. Allow someone to drag and drop items in the command prompt (feedback ID 146930)

    2. Allow a remote RDP logon while a user is logged via the console. (Feedback ID 142348). This could be something only available in Ultimate.

    October 2, 2006 11:04 AM
  • bluvg said:

    Hey, the new site looks great! :)  For my requests:

    1.  PLEASE allow the *option* (in a domain-joined setting only, perhaps?) of enabling a setting to let a support person remote control a user's machine using Remote Assistance *without* prompting the end user 3 or 4 times whether they want to allow it first.  We'd love to use Remote Assistance for remote support, but end up going back to the SMS Remote Control function instead because it takes way, way too long to try to explain to the user that, yes, you do have to respond to the dialog that just popped up on your screen that tells you that I'm offering assistance... and yes, you do have to give me the OK to remote control your machine... and so on.  This would save maybe 45-60 seconds on a call (which is a big difference in some situations!  With SMS Remote Control, it is required to inform the user first, which takes all of 2 seconds, plus every remote control attempt logged in the database as well as the system logs), and it certainly saves on the sanity of the end user that just wants their problem fixed right away, not to mention that of the folks on the help desk, who quickly get really tired of reciting the same script over and over.  I don't know if the SMS remote control feature will be supported with Vista, and I would prefer if we didn't have to resort to something like VNC.  

    2.  Change the UI so that a modal dialog can never pop-up behind its parent window; in fact, I personally think it would be great if there was never a dialog presented without a corresponding taskbar button (groupable).  Also, a dialog that responds to key input should never take immediate control (as an example that applies with many programs, consider if I was typing in Word after initiating a file-deletion request that will take awhile to "prepare," once the file-deletion request is ready, if it pops up and the next letter I was going to type in Word is "C", it would cancel the request; I should be able to have a chance to READ the dialog first!).  It would be great if these responded more like the UAC requests that "blink" on the taskbar until you respond.

    3.  Have Jim come out and personally test for app compat for all our apps, build our system images, and roll it out to the company.  :D  Just kidding....  Oh--and if he finishes early, we can chat about Banyan Vines for awhile. :)

    I know there are some I'm forgetting... I'll keep thinking.  Good luck with the interview!  Jim Allchin... I'm so jealous.... :)

    October 2, 2006 12:26 PM
  • Josh said:

    Two things.

    1.) I want to be able to password protect a zip from was in XP ...WTF?

    2.) I want better support for Podcasts/netcasts/blogcasts in it really that hard to pull off?

    October 2, 2006 1:08 PM
  • What happened to one request?!?!?

    Massif, did you know about the hack for WPF gadgets? Basically you create a WPF Browser Application (XBAP), compile it, and then write the gadget to point to load that URL into the IFRAME instead of your html.

    Details here:

    October 2, 2006 1:30 PM
  • Purity999, you know you can shut that off for specific folder, right? Right click on the folder, select "Customize this folder", and change the first option from "Music details" to "All items".


    October 2, 2006 1:32 PM
  • bluvg said:

    Sorry about that! :(  Didn't mean to color outside the lines there....

    I will limit my one request to this, then: please add an option (perhaps in a domain setting only) to Remote Assistance to allow for an administrator to remote-control a machine *without* requiring the end user to give a series of authorizations first (similar to the Remote Control function in SMS).

    October 2, 2006 1:38 PM
  • James Cliffe said:

    Animated gifs in Windows Photo Gallery would be nice. XP's Picture and Fax viewer supported them, why not its successor?

    October 2, 2006 2:18 PM
  • LongView said:

    Been reading this site for a while, before Beta2 of Vista, and really appreciate the information provided here and the new layout looks great.

    I have submitted bug reports for this on all the builds I have had access to, as part of the CPP, right up to 5728.  Please, please, please fix power management before RTM as I can't use sleep or hibernate even though they work on XP.  This could be a significant barrier for me upgrading and I love Vista.  I'd also love us to have a time limited version of Vista RTM so that people that are part of the CPP could do a final evaluation, confirm all their final bugs had been ironed out, to ensure full confidence when we purchase in Jan 2007 -- They could supply DVD's which could be upgraded throught the Anytime Upgrade system to full release versions :-)

    Keep up the good work and I look forward to following the road to Windows 2009 here on WindowsNow.  Hope you really enjoy meeting the man behind Vista.

    October 2, 2006 3:53 PM
  • dannyres said:

    Please get rid of the black title bar on maximize.  I understand your reasons - when a window is maximized they don't want to be distracted, but honestly it's just plain ugly.  Theres pages and pages of complaints on the shellrevealed forums aswell -  Please just turn off the transparency in the glass on maximize, this seems like a good compromize, people wont be distracted by the see-through windows and you can avoid such a jarring change.  


    October 2, 2006 3:58 PM
  • dannyres said:

    Aside from that could you ask him where people can post major problems?  My "Vista Capable" laptop has gone black screen in the "Finalizing Installation" section of install since build 5600.  It worked perfectly in 5536 with glass and all, but now I can't get vista to install at all and have no idea what is causing it.  I've had a look over the installation logs with no luck.  I'm really starting to worry this wont be fixed by RTM, is there anyone I can talk to?


    October 2, 2006 4:02 PM
  • cullend11 said:

    On my motherboard, and what seems to be all in the DFI LanParty NF4 series, and some various other ones, you cannot come out of sleep. YOu press the power button on the start menu, then it goes into the hybrid sleep, and all lights and fans are off. Press the case power button to turn on, nothing happens. Then I will have to flip the PSU button for a few seconds. Turn it abck on, THEN press the case power button and the computer resumes from hybrid sleep. I would really love if it was fixed :)

    October 2, 2006 8:11 PM
  • kentore said:

    I agree with thanlyn, the ability to move the whole Users directory would be a nice and welcome amendment of the system.

    I know that I am supposed to only give 1 wish, but here is a second one; in Windows XP, I can rightclick a picture file and then choose to save for web. This means that I have an easy way to resize pictures for upload to web/email right at my fingertips. Very handy. But where has this functionality gone in Vista? Can not find it. Please bring it back - especially in Windows Photo Gallery.

    October 3, 2006 1:12 AM
  • some1 said:

    Bring back the 'File types' tab and its functionality in Folder Options.

    October 3, 2006 4:44 AM
  • some1 said:

    2. Create a new folder using an easy keyboard shortcut (say Ctrl-N), not a keyboard sequence.

    October 3, 2006 4:51 AM
  • dannyres said:

    Robert, scrap the question about the black title bar :)  They've answered it over at shellrevealed (, so no need to waste a question on that just incase you were going to!


    October 3, 2006 4:52 PM
  • sillyputty said:

    Was it Jim Allchin that said Vista would be a quality driven, rather than a date driven release ?

    Seems like it has shifted to being date driven based on the comments here.

    October 4, 2006 12:45 AM
  • mercuryLuz said:

    Sorry for posting multiple requests.. But that way you have more to choose from (if you haven't already done) which surely is no bad thing... :]

    1. What about a simple "Close Tray" option in addition to the "Eject" in the context menu of optical drives in "Computer"?

    (In XP, some software -maybe Nero?- adds this itself when being installed because it doesn't exist there by default, too.)

    2. I would LOVE to be able to manually rearrange the positions of taskbar items of open windows, just as with the tabs in Firefox or IE7! I was surprised that this is still not possible in Vista..

    3. I would like a little bit bigger program icons in the Alt-Tab-displaying window. Or that the icons aren't ON the preview pictures but next to them. Would bring some more clarity, I think..

    4. And finally - the check, if the drive to install Vista on is a USB harddisk should be removed again or just not refuse to install if it really IS a USB disk. (Or even: Installation on USB drives should be officially supported! But I don't think that's going to happen too soon..)

    5. Oh, and: The Help window that always pops up when booting in "Safe Mode" should only show when using "Safe Mode" for the first time, not always. Gets annoying..

    Thanks for listening! ;)

    October 4, 2006 1:32 AM
  • iceykola said:

    Here's one. I miss the "Repair Connection" that disabled the wireless adapter, re-enabled, and cleared those caches. My wireless adapter just stops working for apparently no reason sometimes, so all I had to do was repair it and it would work again. Now I have to open the network connections in 2 or 3 steps. Then disable the connection, reenable it, and then wait and hope it connects again. The repair that's in there doesn't do any of this, it suggests that I connect the network cable to one of the ethernet ports, or connect to a wireless network, but the problem is when the wireless adapter stops working, it can't find networks to connect to even though it appears to Windows to be functioning fine.

    October 4, 2006 10:09 AM
  • Holy crap, it's been a busy week. Launched a new site , practiced my interview skills on one of the top

    October 12, 2006 5:58 PM